Millwall’s Steve Morison goes for goal against Forest
BARRIE MCKay was thrilled to get his Nottingham Forest career off to a fairytale start as he fired Mark Warburton’s men to an opening day victory over Millwall.
The 22-year-old, a £500,000 signing from Rangers in July, chose to rise to the occasion in spectacular fashion as he made his competitive Forest debut against Neil Harris’s newlypromoted Lions, arrowing home a stunning long-range effort late in the first half to settle matters at the City Ground.
Millwall huffed and puffed, and passed up a raft of opportunities to get themselves on the scoresheet, but Forest did enough to get their latest Championship campaign up and running thanks to McKay’s moment of inspiration.
“It was a big three points in the first game of the season and we’re delighted to get them,” said the one-time Scotland international.
“I had a few other chances probably to come in and hit it and I’ve chose to pass, and luckily that time, when I hit the strike, it went in.
“If you look at most of my goals, they do come from long range, so it was obviously good to get off the mark with a good goal.
“The main thing is the boys got the three points.
“The keeper, the defenders, everybody – we really did defend as a team and to get that win, it’s a big boost for the start of the season.”
Millwall chief Harris was keen to focus on the positives borne of his side’s display, even if they failed to come away with anything to show for their efforts.
“My players executed the game plan perfectly,” he said. “It was a really strong performance. We didn’t sit off and let them play – we pressed at the right times. We’ve worked into good positions and created good chances. I’ve said to the boys in the dressing room, ‘What a top performance, collectively and individually’.
“However, being honest, I’m disappointed because we didn’t get a result. At this level, and certainly the next one up, if you don’t take your chances, you lose the game.
“It’s a good performance, but we’ve got nothing to show for it other than a pat on the back.”
The hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession early on but Millwall continually threatened in the first period, with experi- enced frontman Steve Morison rattling the crossbar.
Aiden O’Brien narrowly headed over and Lee Gregory called Forest keeper Jordan Smith into action, while at the other end, Ben Brereton almost gave the home side an undeserved lead but his strike was deflected into the side-netting.
Then, just four minutes before the break, McKay came to the fore. The wideman jinked infield from the byline and, with the Millwall defence standing off, he swung his right boot five yards outside of the penalty area and let fly with an effort that flashed past goalkeeper Jordan Archer at his near post.
The Lions’ profligacy continued in the second half, with Lee Gregory passing up an open goal when he was fed by Morison, who intercepted a Smith pass.
Morison also saw a strike ruled out by referee Peter Bankes for a foul committed by Gregory, and Forest began the season with all three points.
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Barrie McKay celebrates scoring Nottingham Forest’s winner with his new team-mates